More Manna From Heaven for the Free State
Tim Condon -- Tampa, Florida -- Want to live in real liberty in your own
lifetime? Check out WWW.FREESTATEPROJECT.ORG
"The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what
color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares
whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most
effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one
another to deal with one another and to help one another." - Prof.
August 1, 2005
Political Lightning Rod Planted on New Hampshire Farmhouse
# An L.A. activist's effort to take Justice Souter's land for a
resort--citing a Supreme Court property ruling--earns praise and disdain.
By Elizabeth Mehren, Times Staff Writer
WEARE, N.H. -- When Tina Pelletier opened the mail at Town Hall the
other day, a check for $100 fell out. Someone from out of state wanted
to make reservations at Weare's first hotel.
But the bed-and-breakfast envisioned on a remote site at the end of a
dirt road is little more than a political activist's pipedream. The
eight-acre parcel is still owned -- although seldom occupied -- by U.S.
Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter.
A proposal to seize Souter's 200-year-old home and replace it with a
commercial development follows the high court's 5-4 decision June 23 on
government seizure of private property by eminent domain. Souter sided
with the majority to rule that governments can displace private citizens
in the economic interest of the community.
Los Angeles political activist Logan Darrow Clements said he was
overwhelmed by the response since his website (www.freestarmedia.com)
floated the notion of claiming Souter's property shortly after the Kelo
vs. New London decision.
"People are not just supportive, they are enthusiastic like I have never
seen before in my life," said Clements, 36. He said thousands of people
had contacted him to cheer his "Lost Liberty Hotel" project.
"It has taken on a life of its own," he said. "People are practically
throwing money at me. They want to invest in the hotel."
But officials in Weare, a town of 8,500, did not welcome the plan to
build a resort on Souter's homestead. Four of Weare's five selectmen
issued a terse reply to Clements' letter inquiring about pursuing the
"We have no desire to take land from any owner, even when a legal taking
is possible," the selectmen wrote.
Clements, a follower of the social and political philosophy of Ayn Rand,
said he was investigating the possibility of recalling the selectmen. He
said he was confident his project would go through.
"The whole project is symbolic, but that doesn't mean we don't plan on
doing it for real," he said. "I believe I could actually do it."
Clements described himself as an objectivist, explaining: "If you head
toward libertarian and keep going, that is objectivism." In 2003 he ran
for governor in California as an objectivist and received 274 votes.
Clements also supports the Free State Project, an effort to move 20,000
libertarians to New Hampshire in order to influence state government.
He is an MBA who has turned his political leanings into a career,
through Web journalism as well as a reality television show he is trying
to develop about "people standing up against out-of-control
governments." Clements said the winners on his "Survivor"-like program
would not walk away with millions of dollars, "but they would win the
admiration of millions of people."
Unfortunately, Clements said, "left-wing Hollywood has not rushed to
embrace" his idea.
He said he had never visited Weare, a village about 15 miles from
Concord that dates back to the 18th century, and had only seen pictures
of Souter's rickety farmhouse.
The house -- with dark brown paint peeling off and frayed window shades
pulled down -- sits on an unmarked lane off of South Sugar Hill Road.
One of the justice's neighbors is the Sugar Hill Speedway, a go-kart
track. Chickens wander in and out of nearby home sites. Rusty pickups
and creaky farm equipment litter many front yards. Giant greenhead flies
eagerly attack visitors.
"This is just crazy," said Winnie Ilsley, 77, who runs a store called
Winnie's Little World at the end of Sugar Hill Road. "That hotel is
never going to happen."
Clements said he chose Souter as a target because "it had to be
somebody. It is easier to go after one person than to go after all five"
Besides, he said: "Souter is a Republican who was picked by Republicans.
I want to wake America up to the fact that Republicans frequently behave
just the same as Democrats." Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said
Souter would not comment about the plan to build a resort on his property.
But many in the "Live Free or Die" state disagree with Souter's position
in the case.
The majority of justices held that because a proposed office park and
hotel would provide greater tax revenue for the city of New London,
Conn., than would the longtime homeowners, the dwellings could be razed
for the development.
In a recent University of New Hampshire poll, 93% of state residents
said they opposed the taking of private land through eminent domain for
the kind of private development envisioned in New London.
"It was just an overwhelming response," said poll director Andrew Smith.
"I was very surprised. You never see those sorts of numbers in public
opinion polls. This opposition cut across the board -- it was all ages,
all political leanings, all regions."
Weare software engineer Joshua Solomon said the hotel proposal gave his
town the chance to show that "we are not going to protect Justice Souter
from his own rules."
He said Weare had "financial issues, just like every other town in the
country, and this would create a nice little revenue-generating
business. A quaint country inn is something that people will go to. It
would become a historical landmark: land that used to belong to a
Supreme Court justice -- land that showed that one small town in America
stood up and said no."
Pelletier* *said the $100 check that fell out of the mail would be
returned, along with other contributions sent from around the country.
(Weare's tax collector, she happened to be opening the mail because the
town clerk was on vacation.)
Pelletier said she doubted the hotel plan would come to fruition. For
one thing, "anybody who has been there knows it is the furthest thing
possible from a worthwhile location. It is right on the flood plain."
And the prospect of a hotel in Weare is laughable, she said.
"We just got a Dunkin' Donuts," she said. "We don't have a pharmacy. We
don't have a dry cleaners. What would we do with a hotel?"
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]